Big hugs to all of you

Hello loyal readers. As you’ve probably noticed from the last few posts, and lack of, things on the farm have been crazy. Summer is usually busy, but this has been insane.

For a few months now, I’ve been thinking about letting the blog go. There are so many wonderful blogs already out there that address writing and offer more experience and information than I have. And it’s hard to write about writing when you don’t have the time to write!

So I’m recommitting to my works-in-progress. I’ll definitely still visit other blogs (plenty still to learn!) and hope to see everyone around Twitter. As my dear friend KCC said, “I’d rather you have an abandoned blog than an abandoned novel.”

It’s been a wonderful two years:

  • 209 posts
  • 5,873 views
  • 480 comments
  • $135.00 raised for local libraries through Jenn Hubbard’s Library Lovin’ Blog Challenge
  • Countless friends met and words of encouragement received

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by over these last two years; whether you commented, shared links, or just lurked, I’ll still see you around, hopefully with a completed manuscript on my desk. Wishing you all happy and productive days of writing!

An example from two decades of goofy sister pictures

I’m in the process of cleaning out my closet at my parents’ house (the conversation went like this; Mom: “Oh, you’ll be in town? Could you stay overnight?” Me: “So you can feed me taco pizza and Whitey’s ice cream because you miss me so much? Absolutely!” Mom: “No, because I need you to clean out your closet.”).

But I have to say, it’s been pretty fun looking through old pictures, art projects (most are terrible by the way, I’ll never be an author-illustrator), toys, and birthday cards. It’s got me thinking about what the things I’ve kept say about me:

  • I was cow crazy as a kid (shocker)
  • I loved my Polly Pockets (and still do, played with them last night)
  • It’s a good thing I was born during the era of spell check (“Aogist” = August, I wish I was joking)

Then I thought about the characters in my WIP. Being middle schoolers, they don’t have quite the history build-up of old stuff, but their rooms still say a lot about them. Have they kept any stuffed animals? Are they out in the open or hidden? Do they have sports posters or achievement certificates on the walls (or both)? What toys are hidden under the bed that they couldn’t stand to get rid of? Do they have pictures or old notes stashed somewhere?

What does your character’s bedroom look like? Have you taken a trip down memory lane lately?

Wish me luck, I’m headed back to the closet…

It’s hard to believe this time last week I was frantically frosting cookies and preparing for the Harry Potter midnight showing. Now I’m just wondering if my face will literally melt off while milking cows tonight. Guess only time will tell, so just in case, some links to tide you over:

This list of Little Known Fantasy Gems from The Enchanted Inkpot both puts me to shame (I haven’t read any of them) and makes me smile (so many good books to read).

Speaking of fantasy gems, Janice Hardy posted these tips on increasing reader emotion. Just because you know how a scene will turn out doesn’t mean your character or reader need to.

The Intern emerged from her basement lab with a shiny, colorful analysis of THE HUNGER GAMES and discusses what makes it un-put-downable.

This week’s Link of Awesome comes from Books & Such Literary Agency: an eighth grade final exam from Salina, Kansas circa 1895. Yikes.

Becky reads to some cowpokes

You’re in for a treat this Monday morning folks: author Rebecca Janni has returned to The Writing Cave to talk about her new picture book EVERY COWGIRL NEEDS DANCING BOOTS.

How did the experience differ with your second book? Anything surprise you?

Well, just like the first book, I was a wreck handing over that manuscript . . . what would my agent and editor think? Would Nellie Sue’s adventures continue? I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and said a prayer.

And again, when that yes came, there was still plenty of revising and editing to do. This time around, there was a little more interaction with illustrator Lynne Avril during the process. I adore her. She has a great sense of humor, amazing creativity, and a lovely spirit.

I guess what surprises me most of all . . . each time . . . is the magic, like artwork that captures the character of my dreams or the mysterious timing of it all. My father was battling brain cancer when I saw Lynne’s final artwork. There is a page where Nellie Sue’s dad scoops her up to dance with him. That image took my breath away, reminded me of twirling in his arms or dancing on his shoes. I knew then and there that the book would be dedicated to my dad, and I had the chance to tell him before he passed away.

I was so sorry to hear about that; I’m glad you got to tell him. What’s next for Nellie Sue and her trusty Beauty?

I’m glad you asked! EVERY COWGIRL LOVES A RODEO is scheduled for release in May of 2012. The story is done, and I’ve already seen first sketches. Lynne might be painting final art right this minute! It’s set at the county fair, and Nellie Sue is hoping for first place at the bicycle rodeo. But competition is tough, and she’ll have to beat the reigning rodeo king, AJ Pickett. My editor calls this story “a love letter to county fairs” – and I just love that!

It is county fair season, which makes me crave a funnel cake! Anyway, now that you’ve done some author events, is there a story or memory that stands out?

Well, I had a blast at the University Book and Supply store in Cedar Falls, IA recently. The event organizers built a campfire out of jumbo blocks and we added flames made of red and orange tissue paper. We roasted marshmallows on pretzel sticks and sang songs around the campfire. The big surprise came at the end, when four girls from the Cedar Falls HS dance team showed up to teach us all a new line dance. So much fun!

That does sound like fun! I’m guessing the fun will continue with your upcoming picture book JAMMY DANCE?

Your timing is perfect, Sarah! Just today, a friend told me that JAMMY DANCE is posted on amazon.com for pre-order. It’s scheduled to launch on Valentine’s Day, and I predict a pajama party!

I wrote JAMMY DANCE when my oldest two were just toddlers, one and three years old. After baths, they would run around the house all naked and slippery doing what they called “the Di-dee dance!” Well, boy, were they hard to catch. It took parental teamwork to wrestle tangles out of hair and wiggly bodies into jammies. For me, this story is a slice of life. I love Tracy Dockray’s illustrations. I’m amazed at the movement in them. Her pictures dance! Oh, and the dog. I LOVE this dog! Everything he does makes me laugh, from swiping the kids’ dolls to slurping out of the toilet. He’s fantastic!

That sounds delightfully chaotic🙂 Since we talked cheese last time, do you have a favorite flavor of ice cream?

I LOVE ice cream. Period. Really, pick a favorite? Okay, wait, I know. My all time favorite ice cream is Dad’s homemade. No skimping on vanilla, cream and sugar. Licking it off the ladle and catching a hint of salt. Mmmm, the best!

That sounds delicious! (July is National Ice Cream Month by the way, everyone go eat lots) Thanks so much for stopping by, Becky, and we’re looking forward to more of Nellie Sue’s adventures and dances with jammies. For more information, visit Becky at her website.

Thursday night was the end of an era, the last Harry Potter midnight movie showing. My aunt, my sister, and her boyfriend journeyed up to the farm for the experience and we even talked my husband into coming with us.

My aunt, me, Munchkin, and boyfriend Nick

I’m a huge fan both from reader and writer points of view, but especially because of one fact: without Harry Potter, my sister would not have been an Honors student. She hated reading, an unfathomable thought for me and probably my Mom, a teacher. But then Munchkin started telling me about this series of books about a boy wizard named Harry Potter. The fourth book had just come out, so I devoured the first three and, using my perks as a library page, put my name on the top of the hold list for the fourth. Munchkin and I both pre-ordered the last three books and raced to read them so we could discuss. They were the first books we shared.

Our first midnight showing was for the sixth movie. My aunt and sister’s birthdays are one day apart in the middle of July and Half-Blood Prince came out on my aunt’s 50th birthday. She said the only celebration she wanted was to go to the midnight showing with her nieces (did I mention she’s a really cool aunt?). She was worried about being the oldest person there, but she wasn’t. We waited in line, played games, ate sugar, and had an epic time. Ditto for Deathly Hallows Part One, although the line-waiting was much colder in November. For this last time, we had butterbeer, cockroach clusters (praline pecan candies), trecle tart, chicken pot pies, and Harry Potter-themed sugar cookies before heading to the theater. My Mom sent along Harry Potter silly bands (which were fun to explain to my husband) and three of us sported Harry Potter shirts. It was just as epic as we’d hoped.

Delicious cookies

Banner for the occasion; truly "A Magical Day"

Banner in the guest room (I'm so proud of this)

So thank you J.K. Rowling and everyone involved with the books and movies. You all brought my sister and me closer together and gave her a love of reading. You gave us a chance to create memories that we’ll tell our children over and over when we introduce them to Harry and his world. You inspired a generation and revitalized an industry. Thank you.

Anyone else have Harry Potter memories to share? Did you go to a midnight showing?

 

The calendar says it’s Wednesday, but my heart says it’s the day before the last Harry Potter movie. I have to finish putting my guest room together and frost the themed cookies, but first, to the links:

This post from Jody Hedlund on “more time someday” is just so dead-on applicable to my life right now that I had to put it first on the list!

Adventures in Children’s Publishing continues to bring the awesome with their WOW Wednesday series. Last week’s post from Christine Fonseca regarding marketing is a must read!

As I’m jumping into another revision of my MG novel, From the Mixed-Up Filesinterview with Rich Wallace was both timely and helpful.

Link of Awesome: just in time for the epic final Harry Potter movie (*snif*), the Parseltongue translator, via GalleyCat. Anyone else going to a midnight showing?

One happy dog

It is with a sad heart that I post about Rose, our loyal farm dog that passed away last week. I only had about two years of solid Rose-petting under my belt, but she begged the rest of the family for attention for more than a decade.

I’ve read several beautiful odes to pets on other writers’ blogs and I can’t hope to match those, but I do want to say Rose truly loved unconditionally. If you walked within twenty feet of her, she’d drop to the ground, wag her tail (and consequently, her entire lower half), and whine as if she hadn’t gotten attention in a century. She loved riding in trucks and tractors, sleeping, chasing rabbits away from the garden, sleeping, eating things that smelled, and sleeping.

It was probably a combination of old age and last week’s intense heat that led to Rose’s last run. She went out like a bad ass, though; two weeks ago she got into a fight with some critter and was sporting a split eye. She was a steadying influence on Rhoda (the young farm dog) and a constant loving companion to the rest of us. She will always be missed and remembered.